UK pubs could face new COVID restrictions soon, UK minister says
LONDON (Reuters) - Pubs and restaurants across Britain could face greater restrictions to tackle the jump in COVID-19 cases, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday, sending shares plunging once again. Hancock was asked in a television interview if people would be able to go to the pub this weekend. 'We'll be absolutely clear about changes that we need to make in the very, very near future,' he told ITV.
LONDON (Reuters) - Pubs and restaurants across Britain could face greater restrictions to tackle the jump in COVID-19 cases, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday, sending shares plunging once again.
Hancock was asked in a television interview if people would be able to go to the pub this weekend. "We'll be absolutely clear about changes that we need to make in the very, very near future," he told ITV.
Asked if that meant no, he replied: "It's not a no and it's not a yes. We've been working on this all weekend, we haven't taken the final decision about what we need to do in response to the surge that we've seen."
Shares in Britain's listed pubs and restaurant groups, including JD Wetherspoon, Mitchells & Butlers, Marston's and Restaurant Group, fell between 9 and 18% on the stock market.
The wider FTSE 100 bluechip index was down 3%.
The United Kingdom already has the biggest official COVID-19 death toll in Europe - and the fifth largest in the world - and has seen a sharp rise in cases since the beginning of this month.
Pubs in parts of the country already under local lockdown restrictions have been forced to close at 2100 GMT and comments from Hancock that the virus is spreading in social circumstances stoked expectations that further restrictions would be imposed.
Vast swathes of the economy were forced to shut for three months earlier this year to halt the spread of COVID, with pubs, restaurants, cinemas and leisure centres all closing their doors.
Good weather in the summer has helped to drive a recovery, with many drinkers and diners sitting outside to meet friends. Many smaller hospitality owners have warned they may not survive if they have to shut again.
(Reporting by Kate Holton and Estelle Shirbon, Editing by Paul Sandle)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.